A Student of History

June 28, 2006

History de-emphasized

Filed under: The Academy — John Maass @ 2:14 am


History, science, and the arts are being de-emphasized by most schools in order to make room for teaching basic reading and math skills.  Who’s to blame for this?

That is in part the question asked by Michael J. Petrilli in a National Review On-line article of June 27.  In part, he blames NCLB (No Child Left Behind) which “mandates that schools boost achievement in reading and math—only reading and math—or face tough consequences.”  He recommends that “Congress should add history testing to the law’s requirements, and make the history and science results count.”

Patrilli also cites E. D. Hirsch, who argues that

an obvious solution to the challenge schools face: Teach reading through history, science, literature, and the arts. He argues persuasively that most of the students who have been “left behind” have successfully learned to decode words and sentences, but can’t comprehend much because of their limited vocabulary and knowledge base. Especially in the upper elementary grades and middle school—where we see student achievement plateau and then begin its long, precipitous decline—the best way to teach reading is to teach content. Instead of “doubling up” on rote, mechanical reading instruction, schools can engage students with compelling historical accounts, fanciful stories, fascinating science, and riveting poetry.

For the rest of the article, click here.

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